Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday banning the use of lead ammunition in hunting, but he vetoed the most controversial gun control bill the Legislature sent to him this year, a proposal to ban the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles.
The bills were among the highest profile in a package of gun control bills Brown acted on Friday. He signed legislation requiring long gun purchasers to take a firearm safety class and adding criminal liability for firearm storage that endangers a child, but he vetoed bills that would have limited the transfer of unsafe handguns and let Oakland enact its own, stricter gun control laws.
The broadest measure, Senate Bill 374, by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would have banned the sale of semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines capable of rapid shooting. It also would have required anyone who has legally owned an assault weapon in the past 13 years to register it with the Department of Justice.
"The State of California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines," Brown said in a veto message. "While the author's intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine."
Brown said the law would ban rifles commonly used in hunting, firearms training and marksmanship.
"I don't believe that this bill's blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners' rights," Brown wrote.
Brown signed Assembly Bill 711, by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, which will ban the use of lead ammunition in hunting by no later than 2019 and require the Fish and Game Commission to certify acceptable non-lead bullets.
Advocates of banning lead ammunition say lead poses a health risk to people and animals when discharged on state lands or near waterways. Gun lobbyists have said the measure would make bullets difficult to find and expensive, and they portrayed the legislation as an attack on hunting.
In a signing statement, Brown said "hunters and anglers are the original conservationists" and that banning lead ammunition "will allow them to continue the conservation heritage of California."
The bills were the subject of intense lobbying on both sides. Gun control advocates held a vigil at the Capitol on Thursday night, and the National Rifle Association announced earlier this month that it would sue the state immediately if Brown signed the Steinberg bill.
The NRA called the bill "perhaps the worst of the lot."
In other gun legislation, Brown announced Friday that he had signed:
Assembly Bill 48, by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, banning magazine repair kits.
Assembly Bill 170, by Assemblyman Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, prohibiting businesses from getting assault weapon permits.
Assembly Bill 231, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, adding criminal liability for firearm storage that endangers a child.
Assembly Bill 500, by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, allowing the Department of Justice additional time to run background checks.
Assembly Bill 1131, by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, increasing prohibition periods after a credible threat of violence
Senate Bill 683, by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, requiring all gun purchasers to take a firearm safety class and earn a safety certificate.
Assembly Bill 169, by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, which would have limited the transfer of unsafe handguns.
Assembly Bill 180, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, would have allowed Oakland to enact stricter gun control measures. Brown said in a veto message that "allowing individual cities to enact their own more restrictive firearms regulations will sow confusion and uncertainty." Brown is a former mayor of Oakland.
Senate Bill 299, by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, which would have required owners to report lost or stolen guns within seven days.
Senate Bill 475, by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, which would have required county approval for gun shows at the Cow Palace.
Senate Bill 567, by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, which would have redefined "shotguns."
Senate Bill 755, by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, which would have expanded the list of crimes that result in a 10-year ban on owning a firearm to include driving under the influence and public intoxication when there are two convictions in three years.
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. Hector Amezcua / The Sacramento Bee